From Seattle to San Diego: Day 5
After 1,200 miles on the road, there’s really only one thing that matters in the half hour after you wake up:
It wasn’t a morning for breakfast blend – not that anyone actually drinks that, right?
It was a morning for that 7-11 coffee that’s branded with a lightning bolt, neon green letters, and something to the effect of Mega-Energy-Fusion-Shock blend. I feel like it’s almost awkward to stand next to someone pouring that in their cup, like maybe you should take a moment to ask them if everything’s okay at home, or if they have a body in their trunk.
I mean, if you need amphetamine sulphate at 7am, life isn’t going as planned.
… Speaking of plans, we were right on schedule for the most anticipated day of our trip.We zipped right through Monterey and Carmel –
Wait, you zipped through BOTH of those places?
Well, here’s the deal: Monterey and Carmel are extraordinary. We visited those areas a couple years ago, and both agreed they were two of our favorite spots in the entire state. Because we’d already spent a good amount of time there, we decided to quickly pass through them on this trip.
If you’ve never been there, GO. Whatever your excuse is, it just isn’t good enough.
Unless it is, and in that case, it still isn’t.
Big Sur, CA
As much as I want to banter a little more about 7-11 coffee, or Sara’s peculiar fascination with eye masks, Big Sur deserves a little more than a few, bargain-priced quips from me. The only way to describe Big Sur, is to not describe it at all…
I’m going to try and slip in a sports analogy here, and hope my wife doesn’t proofread this section.
… Welp, that didn’t go so well.
I guess that means I won’t be able to break down just how sensational Big Sur really is, but I’ll leave you with this: If you’re visiting California, and can only check out ONE place, I’ve got two words for you:
Wait, that doesn’t make any sense at all. Let’s try a different pair of words:
Hearst Castle Zebras
On our way South from Big Sur, we decided to stop at Hearst Castle to see if we could sneak into a last-minute tour. We would have pre-purchased tickets, but there was simply no way to know what day or time we’d arrive. We actually took the same approach the last time we visited (a year or so ago), and totally struck out.
(Ha! I snuck in that subtle sports reference without Sara catching it. Win!)
Being that it was the Sunday after Christmas, we (stupidly) thought, “Why would anyone go to Hearst Castle the weekend after Christmas?”
After pulling into the parking lot, the better question would have been, “Why wouldn’t anyone go to Hearst Castle the weekend after Christmas?”
Judging by the throng of (foreign) tourists, I thought maybe they were having a tourist convention, or a foreign language seminar, or maybe an immigration reform conference. Whatever was going on, it was vastly important to capture it in HD, as everyone had camera lenses that could spot even Kim Kardashian’s brain from inside the castle.
… Because her brain is small. … And the lenses are powerful. It’s not funny anymore. You ruined it, but that’s okay, because our hopes of seeing Hearst Castle were also ruined, so we’re even.
Several hours later, when we finally made it out of the parking lot, we drove just a couple of miles before we ran into yet another horde of camera lenses. Being the nosy people we are, we pulled off, walked across the highway, and sure enough, you guessed it…
There was a harem of Zebras.
Let’s just say, I don’t think I’ll ever see a waterfall pouring off the cliffs onto a sandy beach… AND a harem of Zebras in the same day ever again.
About 10 miles South of Hearst Castle is the pleasant, beach-front town of Cambria. We’d visited here a couple years ago, and enjoyed the fashionable downtown area with shops and restuarants. After a quick stop at an inviting little wine bar in town, we went to check out something we hadn’t seen yet on this trip:
The story goes like this: After we left the beach in Cambria, we headed towards another beach in Morro Bay, but before we got there, we had to stop and explore a different beach on the way.
(Read that back, it rhymes. Impressive.)
Because I hadn’t yet seen the ocean on this trip, I felt weirdly compelled to run from the car to the coastline.
Morro Bay, CA
Finally, we made it through the whole beach thing to get to the beach. What a relief! I mean, all we’ve been trying to do this entire trip is get to the beach, but we keep getting held up at the beach! So frustrating.
In all seriousness, Morro Bay is a lot more than a beach, mainly because of Morro Rock, which occupies a very large majority of the popular coastal area.
I mean, even Helen Keller would be like, “Wow, that’s a big rock.”
We climbed out onto the boulders just West of the rock, settled in, and spent the next half hour watching the sun set over a pretty good set of crashing waves.
By the time we got up to leave, it was close to dark outside. And we all know what that means…
It was really cold.
Okay, it was more like cold-ish.
… It was 60 degrees, but that’s completely unacceptable for a winter temperature, and we were both freezing. While these pictures don’t perfectly encapsulate the complete aura of the location, we’re going to show them to you anyway.
Up next: Our (new) favorite city in California… and I’m serious.
San Luis Obispo, CA (SLO)
I’ve been a lot of places in the U.S., and I’ve also lived in a lot of places in the U.S. I’ve lived on the East coast (D.C., Maryland), in the Midwest (Missouri, Kansas), the sorta’ Midwest (Tennessee), the cowboy Midwest (Texas), and of course, the West coast (L.A., San Diego). Clearly, I’ve had a bad case of Wanderlust for most of my life.
I see it this way: You don’t get to choose a lot about how your life starts.
I don’t get to choose my race, when I was born, where I was born, who my family is, what I look like, how tall I am (thanks, God), or any of the propensities I have towards a large number of things.
BUT, I get to choose how my life continues after it starts.
I choose my friends, who I marry, how I make and spend my money, how I present myself, how I invest my time, what I pursue, and… where I live.
I realized a long time ago that I can live literally anywhere I want to, and if I don’t like the town, city, or state I live in, then the joke is really on me. In life, there are no limitations, except the ones we willingly blanket on ourselves.
While Sara and I spent the evening in downtown San Luis Obispo (where we had the best Italian food we’ve had in California), something almost unprecedented came out of both our mouths:
“You know what, I could totally see us moving here.”
… And we never say that, because we love where we live.
Both USA Today and Oprah called SLO the “Happiest City in America”. Their downtown is a perfect grid of trendy restaurants, boutique shopping, and most importantly (to Sara), an outdoor shopping mall. The traffic is minimal, and you’re only about a ten minute drive from the ocean, and a ten minute drive into the mountains. The metropolitan area is known primarily for their wine growing regions, and is home to more than 40 wineries and tasting rooms. The people are uncharacteristically friendly (by So-Cal standards), and you’re just far enough South to avoid any sort of winter weather.
We’re not quite ready to pack up and head North just yet, but I can unashamedly say that SLO is my favorite city in California.
5 days down, 1 to go…